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Replacing axe handle

Discussion in 'Firewood, Heating and Wood Burning Equipment' started by StihlNAlberta, Dec 3, 2014.

  1. StihlNAlberta

    StihlNAlberta ArboristSite Member

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    I'm wondering about the process of burning an old wooden axe handle out of the axe head. I've just hung a nice old axe head I found in my tool shed, but was initially having a hard time removing the old broken handle portion left in the head. I had a fire going outside so I popped the axe head in the fire and returned the next day to find the axe head was perfectly cleaned out. I went ahead and cleaned it up and re-hung with a new handle ..... Looks great but have I compromised the edge retention of the axe from heating it? Is high carbon tool steel effected by this sort of heating/cooling process?

    Any info would be great .....
     
  2. TreePointer

    TreePointer Addicted to ArboristSite

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    http://www.gransforsbruk.com/en/axe-knowledge/caring-for-your-axe/fitting-an-axe-with-a-handle/

    When the wind blows, wood fires can get really hot, so there's a good chance you did change the desirable properties of the steel.

    Wranglerstar has some very good YouTube videos on changing tool/axe handles.
     
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  3. timbrjackrussel

    timbrjackrussel ArboristSite Guru

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    US Forest Service, a very good video on axe care.
     
  4. Marshy

    Marshy 285 Killa

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    After watching this video almost every axe or maul I look at is hung wrong. Great clip, a little lengthy though.
     
  5. Whitespider

    Whitespider Lost in the 50s

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    Possibly... even likely... but without knowing how hot it got, and for how long??
    This is an over-simplification of the process, but typically, heating and slow cooling will "soften" steel, heating and rapid cooling (such as quenching) will "harden" it.
    *
     
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  6. svk

    svk A little bit of everything

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    In the future just drill a few holes into the wood (drill press works great but hand drill will do the trick too). This will reduce the tension enough to pound out what's left with no chance of damaging the head.
     
  7. firebrick43

    firebrick43 Life is all about big saws

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    A lot of steels start tempering at around 400- 500 and are annealed by 1100 degrees. You probably screwed it up. Take a smooth file in good shape. Does it easily cut the edge? If so it's soft.

    It should skate or just slightly cut it with some pressure/effort
     
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  8. Landmark

    Landmark Chainsaw Enthusiast

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    If it softened it up, can't it be reheated in same fashion and then tossed in a bucket of ice water?? won't that restore the temper to the metal?
     
  9. Chris-PA

    Chris-PA Where the Wild Things Are

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    My favorite axe is one I burned the handles out of several times. It still works great and holds an edge fine. I don't do it any more as it isn't a good practice, but it doesn't mean the axe is ruined. Dress it and swing it.

    As for the file test - I sharpen my axes with a file. It doesn't take much force on any of them if the file is sharp.
     
  10. benp

    benp Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Thank you!!!!

    That was an AWESOME video!!!!

    I learned A LOT!!!!
     
  11. Whitespider

    Whitespider Lost in the 50s

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    Unfortunately, it ain't as simple as that... I won't get into all that.
    But like Chris-PA posted, even if the temper has changed don't necessarily render it unusable... I'd rather have an ax a touch on the too soft side, than on the too hard side.
    *
     
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  12. firebrick43

    firebrick43 Life is all about big saws

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    It has to be heated to a dull red( more accurate is when a magnate doesn't stick ) and the plunged and agitated in either oil or salt brine depending on the steel. My personal opinion is most axes probably need brine but ?

    Now the axe is very hard and brittle. Really old axes have bodies of wrought iron (which won't harden) with carbon steel edge forge welded.

    Now you have to temper or draw the hardness off. You either need to bring the steel to a set temperature(higher the temp, softer but tougher the steel) in an oven or polish an area on the edge and heat up the poll. As the heat comes forward you will see colors run. Certain color show differences in temp. When the steel reaches the color you want you plunge the axe head back into the quench to stop the tempering.
     
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  13. cat-face timber

    cat-face timber Knot Bumper

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    Growing up, my Dad would always put the Maul Head or the Axe Head on the Ashley Stove for a week give or take and have me knock out the wood, after removing the washers that he always pounded into the wood to keep the heads on.
    With me chopping and splitting he had to replace lots of handles.
     
  14. Freakingstang

    Freakingstang Doctor Freakinstein

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    I just replaced a handle on my great grand fathers old plumb axe. bought a link handle from amazon... I didn't know about the way the grain should run. 4 split rounds worked flawlessly. 5th round had a knot and split the handle from the center to my hand and ripped my hand open...
     
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  15. woodchuck357

    woodchuck357 Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Hardening and tempering an ax is quite involved and well beyond most folks. Ruining one isn't. It will most likely never hold an edge for chopping, but since the metal of a splitting/pounding tool is relativly unimportant, it should split wood just fine.
    As a test for an ax I plan to use for chopping I reject any that all but the very hardest NEW files will remove metal from the edge. If it can be filed it is to soft for chopping.
     
  16. StihlNAlberta

    StihlNAlberta ArboristSite Member

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    Many thanks. I think I maybe should have tried to "quench" it in an oil bath after super heating with a cutting torch or the likes of BEFORE I hung it but unfortunately a wee bit late. I guess next time, but likely it is still harder than poplar, cedar, spruce and pine .... Regardless it sure looks nice when all cleaned up. In all honesty when sharpening it still resists filing pretty well so I will keep my fingers crossed it will hold an edge. Time will tell as I haven't had much of a chance to cut more than a dozen or so armfuls of kindling.
     
  17. cat-face timber

    cat-face timber Knot Bumper

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    That sucks man!
    Hope your hand feels better.. chicks dig scars!
     

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